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Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014

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Sukhoi T-50/I-21/Article 701 PAK-FA
Sukhoi T-10/Su-27/30/33/35/35S/37 Flanker

First prototype of the PAK-FA during an early test flight, January 2010. Intended to replace the Flanker series, the PAK-FA improves upon the superlative aerodynamic and kinematic performance of the Flanker, but adds competitive Very Low Observable capability, until recently unique to United States designs (Sukhoi image).

The emergence of the Russian Sukhoi T-50 / PAK-FA (Перспективный Авиационный Комплекс Фронтовой Авиации), the intended replacement for the T-10 Flanker series, marks the end of the United States' quarter century long monopoly on the design of Very Low Observable (VLO) or stealth aircraft. Designed to compete against the F-22 in traditional Beyond Visual Range (BVR) and Within Visual Range (WVR) air combat, the PAK-FA shares all of the key fifth generation attributes until now unique to the F-22 - stealth, supersonic cruise, thrust vectoring, highly integrated avionics and a powerful suite of active and passive sensors. While the PAK-FA firmly qualifies as a fifth generation design, it has two further attributes absent in the extant F-22 design. The first is extreme agility, resulting from advanced aerodynamic design, exceptional thrust/weight ratio performance and three dimensional thrust vectoring integrated with an advanced digital flight control system. The second attribute is exceptional combat persistence, the result of a 25,000 lb internal fuel load.  The internal and external weapon payload are likely to be somewhat larger, though comparable to those of the F-22A.

The new Su-35S is labelled a “4++ Generation”  derivative of the baseline Su-27S Flanker B. It is a comprehensive  redesign of the aircraft's systems, and employs a supercruise capable 117S variant engine. Depicted the second prototype during flight test. The Su-35S is expected to be the last Flanker variant to be mass produced before the PAK-FA enters full rate production (KnAAPO image).

Sukhoi's T-10 Flanker family of combat aircraft is without doubt the outstanding design in the final generation of Soviet Cold War era systems. Since the fall of the USSR, the Flanker has continued to evolve and is now by far the leading Russian military technology export.  The Flanker has been exported globally, and the Asia-Pacific now boasts the world's largest inventory of these versatile and highly capable combat aircraft. China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia now operate or have ordered variants of the Flanker.

Reacting to the proliferation of the Flanker, Japan is seeking to acquire the F-22A Raptor. South Korean public debate shows an increasing interest in acquiring the F-22A, for the same reasons Japan seeks it. Australia is however pursuing the opposite path in its planning for the future region, acquiring 'interim' F/A-18F Super Hornets, and seeking the Joint Strike Fighter long term, neither of which are competitive against advanced Flanker variants.

This website will post a selection of relevant articles, submissions and papers

PAK-FA Variants, Systems and Weapons Topics

Carlo Kopp and
Peter Goon
APA Analyses Feb 2010 Assessing the Sukhoi PAK-FA
Chris Mills and
Peter Goon
APA NOTAM Feb 2010 PAK-FA, F-35, F-22 and “Capability Surprise”
Carlo Kopp APA NOTAM
Mar 2009 When America’s Stealth Monopoly Ends, What's Next?
Chris Mills APA NOTAM Mar 2009 Air Combat: Russia’s PAK-FA versus the F-22 and F-35
Carlo Kopp Air Power Australia Aug 2009
Tikhomirov NIIP AESA Radars [PAK-FA/Flanker]
Carlo Kopp Air Power Australia Mar 2010 Sukhoi PAK-FA Imagery and Multimedia

Flanker Variants, Derivatives, Systems and Weapons Topics

Carlo Kopp Air Power Australia Aug 2009 Sukhoi/KnAAPO Su-35-1/BM/S Flanker
Carlo Kopp Defence Today Mar 2011 Russian fighter technology accelerates
Carlo Kopp Defence Today Mar 2010 Sukhoi’s Su-35S - not your father’s Flanker
Carlo Kopp Defence Today Jun 2008 Sukhoi Fighters Evolve Potent Capability
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia Jan 2007
Sukhoi Flankers - The Shifting Balance of Regional Air Power
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia May 2007
Supercruising Flankers?
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia Sep 2008
Shenyang J-11B Flanker B
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia Jun 2008
Sukhoi Su-33 and Su-33UB Flanker D: Russia's Maritime Multirole Fighter
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today
Jan 2007
F/A-18E/F Super Hornet vs. Sukhoi Flanker
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia
Jan 2007
Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation
Nov 2004
Sukhoi's Fullback (Su-32/34) [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
APA Analyses
Assessing Russian Fighter Technology

Carlo Kopp
Defence Today Jan 2008
Russian fighters – capability assessment [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia
Apr 2008
Flanker Radars in Beyond Visual Range Air Combat
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia Jul 2008
Phazotron Zhuk AE/ASE: Assessing Russia's First AESA
Carlo Kopp APA Analyses Sep 2009 Assessing the Tikhomirov NIIP L-Band
Active Electronically Steered Array
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia Mar 2008
The Russian Philosophy of Beyond Visual Range Air Combat
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia Jul 2007
Hard Kill Counter ISR  Programs
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today Nov 2006
Hard Kill Counter-ISR Capabilities Proliferate [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Air Power Australia Jan 2007
Regional Precision Guided Munitions
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation
Sep 2003
Asia's Advanced Flankers (Su-27/30)[PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Oct 2003
Su-30 vs RAAF Alternatives (Su-27/30)[PDF]

Tactics, Strategy and Force Structure Topics

Chris Mills
Jan 2009
Breaking the Kill Chain
Chris Mills APA NOTAM Feb 2009
Will the US Air Force be Annihilated in the Next War?
Chris Mills APA NOTAM Nov 2007
Australia's Future: Air Dominance Capability
Carlo Kopp
May 2006
The Flanker Fleet -The PLA's 'Big Stick'
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today Jul 2007
Regional Air Power Developments 2007 [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today Jan 2006
Regional Developments 2005 [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today Sep 2004
2010+ Regional Futures [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Defence Today Sep 2004
2010+ Air Power Futures [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Australian Aviation Aug 2004
The Sleeping Giant Awakens (PLA-AF/PLA-N) [PDF]
Carlo Kopp
Submission to the Minister for Defence May 1998
Replacing the RAAF F/A-18 Hornet Fighter, Strategic, Operational and Technical Issues

The Parliamentary Debate [Click for more ...]

Related Links [Click for more ...]

First prototype of the PAK-FA, B/N 51, during an early test flights, January and February 2010 (Sukhoi images).

Indian AF Su-30K during Cope India Exercise

Indian AF Su-30K during the Cope India exercise. The Flankers soundly defeated US Air Force F-15Cs during this exercise, exploiting not only superior BVR radar/missile capabilities, but also the TKS-2 datalink, used to network flights of Flankers (US Air Force image).

Russian Navy Su-33 (formerly Su-27K) in operational service. The PLA-N has ordered its first Su-33s, aiming to acquire up to 50 to equip the Varyag CVA (KnAAPO Image).

Su-27K Prototype Buddy Refuelling
An Su-27K prototype performs a dry hookup during buddy refuelling trials using the UPAZ-1A Sakhalin series centreline refuelling store.  Most late build Flankers are equipped with a retractable aerial refuelling probe and floodlights (RuAF photo).

Above, below: Early model Russian Air Force Su-27S Flanker B (© 2010, Jeroen Oude Wolbers).

Su-27SKM Weapons (KnAAPO)

Su-30MK2 Weapons (KnAAPO)

AWACS Killer Missiles - Click for more ...

PLA-AF Su-27SK (PLA Image)

Tikhomirov NIIP AESA on display at MAKS 2009. Variants of this design will be fitted to the PAK-FA series and late models of the Flanker (© 2009, Miroslav Gyűrösi).

NIIP Irbis E  Components (above)

A derated AL-41F supersonic cruise engine has been trialled in an Su-27S since 2004.

People's Liberation Army Air Power Index Page [Click for more ...]
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